Ellis bags Skinner's Final in valuable Stratford finale
There are certain set piece events in the Point-to-Point calendar each season, which of course include each of the three Foxhunter Chases - Cheltenham, Aintree and Stratford. Stratford's grand finale to the Hunters's season boasts the highest value collection of hunter chases anywhere during the season, where the seven races offered over £70,000 in prize money. As a result, they're keenly contested, including runners from Ireland.
However, of the three main features, the home team only managed to lay a hand on one. This fifth year of the Skinner's Ladies open Championship Final, a series of 20 qualifiers, drew a field of just four after two overnight withdrawals, and it was Tom Ellis' Deans Road who prevailed, when catching leader Virak two out. The winner has a bit in hand given he was eased before the line.
Tom and his partner Gina (nee Andrews) are proficient at developing young horses for onward progression into the professional ranks. Indeed, last week's consignment at Tattersalls included five year old Vokolohs, second on his debut at Edgecote earlier in May, knocked down to Olly Murphy for £34,000.
Highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the winning return to Stratford of Law of Gold, trained in Norfolk by David Kemp, and a winner of the Champion Novice Hunter Chase on his last visit in 2019, who had something in hand when winning the Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunter from Bob And Co and Monbeg Chitchat. Expect to see him take greater prominence in next year's Cheltenham Foxhunter.
The award for the most improved horse should go to Vaucelet, who travelled over from Northern Ireland to take the scalp of the Ellis-trained Fumet d'Oudairies and Bradley Gibbs' Premier Magic, both sitting on strong reputations after facile wins in hunter chases earlier in the year. Unless he's sold, Vaucelet won't appear here again until Cheltenham 2022, but there's more improvement to come from this impressive individual.
The Ellis yard swerved Kingston Blount on Sunday for Chaddesley yesterday, where Blazing Tom won the Conditions race, notching up the yard's 29th victory of this odd season.
Meanwhile, our professional trainers have been keeping their end up too. Ian Williams travelled all the way to Kelso for their final fixture of the season where Starlyte duly obliged in the mares bumper, whilst Olly Murphy and Aiden Coleman teamed up at Uttoxeter the same day to win the novices handocap hurdle with Baricane